Nice Rack Canada has been building pedalboards over the last 5 years for various members of Canada’s #1 Grateful Dead tribute, Mars Hotel.

The newest addition to the collection of systems we have built is a fly dates pedalboard for guitarist, Mark Arbus.

With the band’s reach spreading across the continent, one off bookings requiring flights are becoming common. Mark wanted a pedalboard that could help him accurately capture Jerry Garcia & Bob Weir tones, fly as checked luggage & mate well with rental Fender Twin Reverb amplifiers.

To help the artist net the most revenue possible per fly date, we designed the pedalboard & it’s case to be the only piece of checked luggage the player needs. The design of the pedalboard & the case interior allow for the player to pack 3 days of personal clothing in a compartment below the pedalboard. The total weight of the system, case & personal effects is 20 kg / 46 lbs.

A key component of playing Grateful Dead guitar parts is the envelope filter. On Mark’s non-fly date board we have the luxury of using a MuFX TruTron III. The MuFX envelope filters sound amazing but do not fit with the all “Mini Pedal” criteria of this system.

One of the few currently manufactured Envelope Filters in a 1590A size (mini pedal) enclosure is the Mooer Envelope. We set up a testing jig in our shop to “A/B” between the MuFX & the Mooer. In initial testing the slightly “pushed” sound of the MuFX was missing from the Mooer.

By adding a Xotic EP Booster FET pre-amp in front of the Mooer we were able to get the Mooer Envelope solution to sound perfect. Mark loves the sound of the the Xotic EP Booster in it’s unity gain setting that it is active in the signal path continuously and very worthy of it’s place on the board.


The TC Electronic “Tone Print Mini” pedals are a perfect fit for this system. We utilized the Sub N Up Octaver to emulate the Mutron Octave Divider. The Corona Chorus Mini is used to emulate the Boss CE-1 Chorus Ensemble. The Flashback Delay Minis are used for a short & long Tape Delay. The Hall of Fame Reverb Mini is used for a Plate Reverb sound.

The one drawback about the TC Flashback Mini is it’s lack of “Spillover” functionality. To accommodate for this fact, the 2x delays are in a “always on” state. The input to the delays is switched by a relay in the system’s I/O box. The output from the delays is routed to a pair of line mixers in the I/O box, allowing the signal to naturally decay when the input to the delay is switched off.

The TC Electronic PolyTune 2 Mini is our favourite tuner by far and the most recommended to our clients.

Dynamic control of the system is added by the Xotic SP Compressor & Fractal Audio EV-2 Volume Pedal.

Harmonic additions come in 3 basic flavours that stack well to multiply the tonal possibilities. The heaviest of them is the purple mystery box which is a Mad Bean Rabbit Hole (Ram’s Head Big Muff) circuit. Next up is the Ibanez Tube Screamer Mini. Completing the trio with a touch of “underdrive” and pairing especially well with the Muff is the Wampler Tumnus.

System power is provided by a quartet of the super lightweight Voodoo Lab Pedal Power X4.

Bring us your tone fantasies & your criteria, we’ll build you a guitar rig that exceeds your expectations.